Unfortunately, President Obama missed an opportunity today to not only replace an out-of-control general but an out-of-control and failing strategy in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, mainstream media continue to miss the most serious story contained in the now famous Rolling Stone profile.
Michael Hastings' piece is about more than an adolescent general and his buddies' school-yard shenanigans in Kabul and Paris. It was about a failing strategy in Afghanistan and the disconnect between how the administration portrays the war in public and the reality of how the war is actually being waged.
Here are three points in the Rolling Stone article that contradict what the White House has presented to Congress and the American people about the war in Afghanistan:
"Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further." A senior military official stationed in Afghanistan told Hastings: "There's a possibility we could ask for another surge of US forces next summer if we see success here."
General McChrystal's Chief of Operations Major General Bill Mayville, described the war in Afghanistan as unwinnable: "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win. This is going to end in an argument."
"If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular." This was how a Senior Advisor to General Stanley McChrystal characterizes the war in Afghanistan.
While President Obama has been assuring Congress and the American public that US troops will begin leaving Afghanistan next July, his senior military leaders believe that if they are successful, next summer could see a surge of troops, not a withdrawal. And the military should be careful not to reveal what is really going on in Afghanistan because the more Americans know about the war, the more they will be against it.
Who is holding these guys accountable?
Congress needs to step up now and start demanding answers. Until it gets them, it should refuse to appropriate the $33 billion in new war funding that the Administration has asked them for.
This is about more than an out-of-control general in Afghanistan. It's about the strategy, stupid, and the young men and women who are giving their lives to implement it. Congress needs to send a clear and strong message to the White House using the power that the Constitution provides it -- the buck stops here! No answers to these disturbing questions, no more funding for the war in Afghanistan. Period.
And, it can send that message now. The House is scheduled to vote on the administration's Afghanistan war supplemental funding request before it leaves next week for the Fourth of July recess. It should refuse to do so. And, when it comes back to work after the fireworks at home, it should do its job and start demanding answers to all of the other disturbing issues and questions raised in the Rolling Stone article.
Now that the McChrystal side-show is over, it's time for Congress and mainstream media to focus on the main event: the deteriorating war in Afghanistan.